« AnteriorContinuar »
valour, certain of death, and only seeking to die revenged. His heart sunk as he beheld it: he blushed for his native country ; he turned with disgust from the civilized enlightened savage, whose every motion was marked with blood. As he did so, the enemy succeeded—the British troops retired; they were pursued with slaughter into his very arms, and pride and nationality, and shame and fear itself, inspired him to an obstinate and furious resistance. The rear guard, to which he was attached, was ordered to join in battle. This was, perhaps, the only situation in which he could fight with zeal. He was a protector now, and he felt an ambition to be a great one. For his own life he cared not, and the lives of others he disregarded, as they disregarded his. He had not time for pity, nor opportunity to spare. The rapidity of his weapon was as a thousand points, and it hacked a circle round him, depopulated as by a pestilence. No enemy drew breath but once in his presence, It was almost absurdity to oppose, and impossibility to overcome him. But nature could not long endure this over-straining of her energies ;-the weakness of his frame was not adequate to an enthusiasm almost supernatural; he fought while he could stand, and the shout of victory had just reached his ear, pro ceeding from the British line, as he sunk helpless among the dying and the dead.
"The battle was terminated by the darkness of a tempes tuous night and a dirging thunder pealed through the immensity of the firmament; the sky was clouded, hurrying, and troubled--the meteors pale, confused, and diversified every thing that was awful above, corresponded with every thing that was terrible below. When B lifted up his eye amid the horrors of the writhing field, and paused to dispose his thoughts and arrange his recollections, “ And have 1," said he, “ contributed to such a picture as is here ?" (for he saw clearly through the perspective of the lightning.) “ Are these figures of my formation, and instances of my execution, in this group of agony and death ?" He was answered by groans and loud complainings-by signs of audible distress, and imaginations of that distress which had no sign, and which seeks no communication. While he gazed upon this complication of misery, wretchedness, and pain, he beheld, through the same dread perspective, a man of more than ordinary stature. He was passing rapidly through the field, and stooped at certain intervals with great veheinence of action. Charles looked anxiously for some time, to see what he was about, but the flashes were too short to admit a steadfast observation. It was not until the figure drew near, that he saw a dagger stained with blood, and saw it plunged, and heard the shriek that followed that plunge. “ Oh, monster!", exclaimed he, ***, whoever you are, whom soch a scene as this cannot appease ! Curst be thy soul for ever ! May you never enjoy that forgiveness which you cannot afford ! May you find no pleasure in life, and no consolation in your dying hour'!??. -1.6. That wish,” cried the figure, “ that wish is completed. Once the happiest of chieftains, I had a wife to soothe, and children to delight, and friends to cheer and animate me : plenty was in my fields, and the voice of joy was as a light to guide the traveller to my dwelling : but now I have neither wife, nor child, nor friend, nor field, nor habitation; joy and plenty are fled away; the tongues that blessed me are cold in death, while those that curse me are still surviving. My hut is a ruin my garden a wilderness-my family, my friends, my nation, are but a name. Nothing is left to me but the duty of an unrelenting sacrifice, until that I am buried into the society that I love." But think," said B- , 4 what glory is there in murdering the helpless ?--what justice demands the sacrifice of those who are already fallen?" “ And can you talk of justice ?'' said the Indian with a sneer
" you who, with your countrymen; haye desolated this once happy land ? Look at the wide horizon-point out, in all the circuit of your greedy researches, what age, what sex, what rank, what virtue, has met respect from you! what innocence you have not butchered !- what dignity you have not prostrated what temple you have not violated ! Shew me where right, or mercy, or honour, has regulated your conduct-where bended knee, or streaming eye, or supplicating voice, has had its prayer of thee, and then we will talk of justice, as of a thing you do not hate, and will not blaspheme.". The heart of B- glowed with pity ; he attempted to seize the Indian by the hand, but the proffered Courtesy was rejected. “ No," cried the chieftain, “ you are as poison to my sight-you have torn friends from my bosom, but you shall not supply their place the hand that slew them shall not substitute them ;-you may take their lives, and dig their graves, and inter their remains, but you cannot assume their virtues, nor pilfer their attractions; and you shall not usurp their depository.” “ But I am not your enemy,” said B—-;" I do not hate your country; I admire you. Great indeed must be your wrongs, when you have lost your nature."—His hand was still extended. The chieftain answered, “ Your pity I disbelieve-your admiration I despise--your friendship I detest and loathe. You are an Englishman. My wrongs, you say, must have been great --Oh! greater than ever mortal bore. My family, were butchered, villain !-My wife, my children, were dishonoured !". (B- drew his hand away)-"yes, and by your associates. Do you think that this arm, which never smote an enemy unfairly, would rake itself among the half-charnelled miscreants of your nation, if this brain was not bewildered, and this heart broken and debased? I am not cruel-1 am but equitable. · As for you, how can I tell that you were not present at the murder, and a participator in the rape? Your hands are stained, and your complexion is 'white--your country is England and your religion Christianity-your love is wealth, and your detestation the happiness of mankind. You came over seas to take his rice from the Indian; and toil over mountains and wildernesses, to cut up the haryest of him who did you no harm.. You have done right to take away your hand; for though I am bloody, I would not touch you." .."
B w as penetrated to the heart, and he uttered a deep sigh. The miseries of war were placed before him, collected and combined in one great instance of suffering. He paused-he could not speak. The chieftain remained silent too; it seemed as if something dreadful was labouring in his breast, to which he hesitated to give utterance. At length he exclaimed, “ 'Tis done!” and calling upon his wife and children, in a tone of frantic desperation, he fell upon the ground. B—- flew to his assistance. He had turned his weapon upon himself.—Boy !" cried the dying chieftain, in a tone of exultation, “ reserve your tears for others;—you I will not curse; but bear my curses to your countrymen, now sleeping in the camp, and dreaming of tomorrow's plunder. Go tell them how I fell, and tell them that, in that fall, I would not exchange my bitterest pang for their most honourable triumph,” At this he called again
upon the names of those he loved, and working into strong convulsions, he rolled about in agony. B- raised him gently in his arms—he rested his head upon his knee, and besought heaven to soothe his spirit. The chieftain opened his eyes; he saw that some one was attempting to soften the pangs of death to him, and looked benignantly for a moment; but again recovering his senses, and perceiving that his succourer was an Englishman, he turned indignantly away, and, with a sullen rejection of all comfort and assistanee from such a quarter, expired, haughty and contemptuous to the last. It is impossible to describe the agitation of . B--. He was observed in a senseless state near the body, by some of his party, who bore him to the camp. Soon after he was ordered to return to England, having first been appointed to an ensigncy in a regiment at Guernsey, but he did not live to enjoy the dignity long."
This account, by the advice of his patron, Kean, afterwards threw into a more dramatic form and related it at his benefit, when he drew tears from his audience by the melancholy recital. They who have witnessed his pathetic powers in Othello, will have no difficulty in believing this ; indeed pathos was the greatest attribute of Kean's great genius, though it has happened to him, as to others, to be most applauded where he has least deserved it.
When Kean reached Weymouth, he found the company, performing to empty benches, and was earnestly solicited by the distressed manager to resume his old situation. This he peremptorily refused; the bad conduct of the manager towards him when at Guernsey, was of too recent a date to be so easily forgiven; it should seem indeed as if he had stopped at Weymouth for no other purpose than to be solicited that he might refuse, and thus shew his feeling of the treatment he had experienced. Better offers too were held out to him, and he accepted successive engagements at Taunton and Dorchester. At this latter place he was performing in tragedy, comedy, opera, and pantomime, when Mr. Arnold, visited the theatre; the express object of his journey was to judge how far Kean the new actor, answered the favourable opinion of Doctor Drury, who had before seen him at Exeter, and strongly recommended him to Mr. Grenfell, as the only man able to sustain the declining fortunes of Drury Lane Theatre. On this eventful evening,
which was to decide his future fate; Kean first performed Octavian, and afterwards the part of Perouse, in a little pantomime founded on Perouse, and got up by himself. Mr. Arnold immediately saw the value of the actor, and without delay concluded an engagement with him for three years. Then, and not till then, did the people of Dorchester discern bis genius ; they applauded all his efforts through the remaining three weeks of his engagement as if they wished to make amends by present flattery for past neglect; but pleasure seldom comes without alloy ; on the very day that he received Mr. Arnold's offer his son died, leaving a blank that prosperity itself could never fill. .
(To be Resumed.)
CAPTAIN OF A KETCH, TO ASEM HACHEM, PRINCIPAL SLAVE-DRIVER TO HIS HIGHNESS THE BASHAW OF TRIPOLI.
Thou wilt learn from this letter, most illustrious disciple of Mahomet, that I have, for some time, resided in New York, the most polished, vast, and magnificent city of the United States of America : but what to me are its delights! I wander a captive through its splendid streets,-I turn a heavy eye on every rising day that beholds me banished from my country. The Christian husbands here lament most bitterly any short absence from home, though they leave but one wife behind to lament their departure; what, then, must be the feelings of thy unhappy kinsman, while thus lingering, at an immeasurable distance, from three-and-twenty of the most lovely and obedient wives in all Tripoli ? Oh, Allah, shall thy servant never again return to his native land, nor behold his beloved wives, who beam on his memory beautiful'as the rosy morn of the east, and graceful as Mahomet's camel ?
Yet beautiful, oh, most puissant slave-driver, as are my wives, they are far exceeded by the women of this country; even those who run about the streets with bare arms and necks, (et cætera,) whose habiliments are too scanty to protect them either from the inclemency of the seasons or the scrutinizing glances of the curious, and who, it would seem, belong to nobody, are lovely as the Houris that people the elysium of true believers. If, then, such as run wild in the